Apathy is starting to swirl around Ewood Park, with the feelings towards this team becoming all too familiar.

Tony Mowbray again highlighted the fact was no shortage of effort from his side, and while he is right to do so, criticisms on that front have been few and far between.

Rovers don’t look a team full of goals at home. Having not won this season when conceding first, and falling behind to a team who haven’t conceded a goal since February 23, the outcome seemed all too inevitable.

Games are becoming flat, stale, too easily passing them by. They appear to concede ground too easily without the ball, while in possession they are laboured, pedestrian, and predictable.

The gap to the bottom six is now eight points. The fact you’re now having to look shows just how drastic things have turned at Rovers.

Their home form had been the foe they could lean on during times of trouble on the road, but a fourth defeat in five, without scoring, means those January hat-trick of Ewood wins seem a long time ago.

A thriller was never likely. This a battle for 15th place between a team who had taken four points from a possible 30, against one who had one win from their previous 12 games. Added to that, Rovers had failed to score in three of their previous home games and Stoke drawn each of their last four matches.

Something had to give, and that came in the 14th minute when Peter Etebo slammed home Stoke’s first goal in 390 minutes, before extending their run of clean sheets to six games.

While Rovers huffed and puffed, whether a lack of imagination or creativity in the final third, they failed to fully extend Jack Butland in the Stoke goal.

Opposite number David Raya kept Rovers in it, first with a fine stop to keep out Bojan’s penalty in first half injury time and then with an even better save to tip away a Sam Vokes header.

Raya’s penalty save, right on the stroke of half time, felt like a possible turning point in a half which saw Rovers fail to score for the 15th time in 20 first halves at Ewood.

Their best opening came in the eighth minute when Adam Armstrong and Joe Rothwell linked up before the former curled an effort on to the underside of the bar.

The momentum was with Rovers throughout the course of the second half, but bar an Armstrong shot from a short corner routine which Butland palmed away, and several goalmouth scrambles, chances were at a premium.

The groans from the stands grew as cross after cross either sailed out of play or failed to find its target.

The absence of Bradley Dack saw Elliott Bennett used in his No.10 role, but taking away 15-goal top scorer Dack significantly reduced Rovers goalscoring options.

While Dack’s absence was the biggest talking point, that arguably overshadowed the biggest call, or oversight depending which way you look at it, of dropping Lewis Travis to the bench.

When introduced, he got closer to matchwinner Etebo than either of Richie Smallwood and Corry Evans who found it tough going on their respective returns to the team.

With each passing week the importance of this summer increases, the shopping list longer, and the problems for Mowbray mount.

The same players, the same system, the same result. Fans will begin to question, and after a ninth defeat in 11, you can hardly blame them.  It seems hard work alone can’t turn this round. Rovers need a lift, but who provides that? Where does it come from?

Mowbray says now isn’t the time to experiment, but it may well be the only thing to inject some life in to what is becoming a demoralising end to the season.